Last Night’s TV – ER: Old Times

Carol Hathaway and Doug Ross ER

Oh the joy! Not only was Carter back, and Benton AND Carol Hathaway, but the God of all sex Gods George Clooney once again donned his scrubs and filled them very nicely, stepping back into his role as Doug Ross as though he’d never been away. He looked, and was, fabulous in his portrayal of Doug last night; it was as if he’d come home… and it made my day!

And in addition to the return of some old favourites character-wise, NBC really pushed the boat out and had Susan Sarandon and Ernest Borgnine making guest appearances as well!

In case you missed it, the major storyline throughout the episode was that several patients were awaiting transplants in various parts of the States, John Carter in renal failure at Northwestern hospital included…

Susan Sarandon - ER

In Seattle, a young boy was hit by a drunk driver and pronounced brain dead and initially, his grandmother, played by Sarandon, agreed to donate his organs however, when she went to say a final goodbye to the boy, she squeezed his hand and he squeezed back…

Doug and Carol ER

This is where Carol Hathaway and Doug Ross really began to come into play as they both patiently explained that this was merely a spinal cord reflex, but for the grandmother, it was a sign that the boy wasn’t brain dead, and she withdrew her consent for organ donation.

Meanwhile, ‘transporters’ of the organs had arrived in Seattle from all over America, and from County, Neela and Sam were waiting to collect a heart for one of their patients, Joanie. While all the medics sat in the doctor’s lounge in Seattle waiting for a decision from the now highly distraught grandmother, Doug wandered in to say hi and when he asked Neela and Sam where they were from, with a wry smile and a slight shake of the head, he said, “I did my residency there” and went on to ask about a number of the characters who’ve left, but one still remained; Anspaugh. And of course, as Sam and Neela turned up at County way after Doug and Carol left, they had no knowledge of ‘who’ they were.

Peter Benton and John Carter ER

And while all that was going on, we were treated to scenes featuring Noah Wyle as John Carter and Eriq LaSalle as Peter Benton who both also waited anxiously for the kidney that would come from the brain dead boy… if the grandmother gave her permission. Their anxiety was covered by jokey dialogue but a few tender and heartfelt moments were shared when the two discussed their relationships and particularly John’s recent break-up with wife Kem.

sick baby ER

Back at County, a young woman brought in a dangerously dehydrated newborn, saying she’d found him outside but it transpired that she was actually the baby’s mother so we saw the normally rock-hard-ice-maiden Banfield pleading and begging the girl to stay so that social services could help sort things out for her so that she could keep her baby, but she ran away leaving Banfield close to tears.

Ernest Borgnine in ER

Also, Gates and Daria tended to Marjorie, an 84-year-old MS patient who’d been vomiting and had a fever for two days. Marjorie’s husband Paul – the awesome Borgnine – explained that Marjorie doesn’t talk much, but “she’s still sharp as a tack.” He’d been devotedly attending to her every need at home and knew that’s where Marjorie wanted to be; not in a hospital. Gates agreed to see what he could do about getting her care at home, much to Daria’s horror but he explained that the lady was clearly dying and it was her right to have her wishes respected.

Susan Sarandon in ER

Over in Seattle, after Doug has worked his Doctor-knows-best charm on the grandmother, she consented to allow her grandson’s organs to be donated and the action kicked off with the transplant teams all going their separate ways. However, Carol asks Sam if – on their way to County with their heart – they could detour to take a kidney to Northwestern, with no idea that the kidney is for John Carter, to whom she was very close for many years while the two worked at County together, which I thought was a great twist.

reggae band on plane ER

So off Sam and Neela raced with their organs in boxes only to find that the plane that brought them had left without them but after persuading the flight coordinator to help them out, they found the only possible flight was to be shared with a reggae band on their way to a gig.

John Carter goes into surgery ER

Anyway, all the organs arrived at their destinations and Carter was whisked off into theatre for his kidney transplant – with Benton at his side and trying to talk him into calling Kem to let her know what was going on – while at County, Joanie was taken off for her heart transplant. Her little daughter Lucy had been keeping a vigil at her side but the gorgeous Brenner went to keep her company while her mother was in surgery.

During Carter’s op – for which Benton ‘scrubbed in’ – a clot was discovered in the kidney so it had to be detached and flushed with heparin before being reattached, meaning that John’s life was hanging in the balance. However, because of Benton’s insistence on doing everything by the book during the op – to the annoyance of the obnoxious surgeon, Dr Kurtag – John comes out of the op well. The kidney was functioning and though he was in pain, he was finally persuaded by Benton to call Kem, so, fighting back tears, he spoke on his cell phone to the woman who’s been the love of his life.

Neela with Joanie's new heart ER

Back at County, Neela struggled to get the new heart working in Joanie but she managed it, super-surgeon that she is, and came to see Lucy to tell her that everything had gone well and her mother’s new heart was doing its job.

Carol Hathaway and Doug Ross ER

The final scene was of Carol – the lucky moo – in bed with Doug when she got a call from the transplant coordinator to let her know that the heart transplant went well and that the kidney “went to some doctor”, still none the wiser that it was her old pal John….

Ahhhhhhhhhhh, the joy of half naked Clooney sent me off to bed feeling like I’d just had a relaxing massage – or something even better…

This was in my opinion the best episode of this final season so far, and that’s going some because they’ve all been excellent, but to see the old characters back was fantastic, and of course, as you’ll have gathered, I was especially chuffed to see George!

What did you think of the episode?

Next week’s show is entitled, Shifting Equilibrium in which it’s Neela’s last day but everyone in the ER seems to have forgotten that she’s leaving. Neela proves she’s ready to be an attending when she and Dr. Dubenko argue about the treatment of two surgical cases. Meanwhile, Brenner has an epiphany about his troubled past…

Here’s a sneek peek at this episode in which Neela finally goes to see her ex-love Ray.

Have the tissues at the ready for this one!

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.